At $575,000 each, a pair of NGC-certified patterns were the most expensive items sold by Heritage Auction Galleries in their Official Auction at the Florida United Numismatists 2009 Convention in Orlando.
Spread over seven separate FUN catalogs of US coins and currency were 15,000-plus lots belonging to over 600 consignors that Heritage offered in early January. The FUN auctions realized $52 million in rare coins and $6 million in currency. More than 3,300 FUN bidders were successful, exceeding one-third of the 9,000 FUN bidders participating. At FUN, 89% of the coin lots sold. All lots are currently posted at HA.com for post-auction research.
“FUN 2009 was simply amazing,” enthused Heritage President Greg Rohan, “and we are pleased that 2009 is off to such a strong start. We continued to see strong demand for rare coins and currency despite the economic afflictions seen in the rest of the economy. We offered rarities across all series, and the collector community responded with strength – and we are even seeing some new clients who are turning to rare coins for diversification. The Lemus Collection – Queller Family Collection Part Two, containing 465 different Patterns – nearly entirely certified by NGC – topped $8.3 million.” A post-sale interview with Greg Rohan regarding the strength of the coin market can be seen on Heritage's Web site.
Heritage's FUN 2009 was the coin industry's third most valuable auction, at $57 million. That ranks against Heritage's world record 2007 FUN event – at $78 million – and Heritage's previous $62 million world record for the most valuable numismatic auction at FUN 2005.
Featured NGC-certified FUN rarities included:
Lot 1888: 1877 Fifty Dollar, Judd-1549, PR67 Brown NGC. Realized $575,000.
William Barber's Small Liberty Head design is one of the rarest and most cherished in American numismatics. The Half Union patterns are the subject of much research regarding their unusual legal history. With beautiful iridescent surfaces, no finer specimen could exist. From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two.
Lot 4035: 1880 $4 Coiled Hair, Judd-1660, PR62 NGC. Realized: $575,000.
Designed by George Morgan, the coiled hair head of Liberty stella is a classic American rarity. The 1880 Coiled Hair issue is clearly the rarest of the four stella varieties. Population rosters now account for nine different examples surviving from perhaps twenty minted. From the Omaha Collection.
Lot 4062: 1815 $5 MS64 NGC. Realized: $460,000.
Unlike many of the old-tenor gold issues, the 1815 half eagle does not owe its rarity to the massive gold melts of the 1820s and '30s. With a minuscule mintage of just 635 pieces, the 1815 was rare from its date of issue. From the Deb-Ann Collection.
Lot 1962: 1915 Panama-Pacific Half Dollar, Judd-1960, PR64 NGC. Realized: $345,000.
One of only two known specimens; struck in gold as the regular silver-issue, but lacking the normal S mintmark. These extremely rare patterns were clearly clandestine strikes, produced at the Philadelphia Mint before mintmark punches were applied to the working dies. They were possibly created for Treasury Secretary William Gibbs McAdoo (a coin collector)! From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two.
Lot 3762: 1841 25C PR66 NGC. Ex: Pittman-Kaufman. Realized: $299,000.
This is the only Gem-quality proof 1841 Seated quarter in existence, and also the finest of just four proofs that are available to collectors, so far as we know. From the Scott Rudolph Collection.
Lot 3764: 1844 25C PR66 NGC. Ex: Pittman-Kaufman. Realized: $299,000.
The rarity of the 1844 proof quarter is easily established: this is the solitary example certified by either NGC or PCGS. This NGC-graded PR66 coin pedigreed to the John Jay Pittman and the Phil Kaufman collections, and is from the Scott Rudolph Collection.
Lot 5025: 1893-S $1 MS65 NGC. Realized: $299,000
Only one die pair is known for the 1893-S silver dollars, and it was utilized to coin 100,000 pieces according to long-established records, although recent research suggests that the real mintage was just 77,000 pieces. Either figure places this issue at the top of the list of lowest business strike mintages of the series (discounting the 12,000 1895 dollars supposedly struck but never seen). From the Sanderson Family Collection.
Lot 4990: 1889-CC $1 MS 65 NGC. Realized: $253,000.
The vast majority of the silver dollars minted in 1889 were actually paid out and entered circulation in the late 19th century; the result is a relatively plentiful supply of worn examples, and a lack of Mint State pieces. Only four other MS 65 examples have been certified by NGC. From the Sanderson Family Collection.
Lot 3736: 1831 25C Large Letters PR66 Cameo NGC. Realized: $218,500.
The strike (or strikes) was so powerful and exacting that details not typically seen on even the finest business strike examples of this issue are clearly visible: the most intricate details within the recesses of Miss Liberty's hair and the nuances of every feather on the eagle's wings. The specimen offered here represents not only the finest quality available for the date, but also an important provenance. Ex: Richard Picker; Norweb Collection; from the Deb-Ann Collection.
Lot 4158: 1891 $20 PR67 Ultra Cameo NGC. Realized: $184,000.
Shortly after the 52 1891 proof double eagles were struck, George Heath and friends convened with 61 American Numismatic Association charter members at the Commercial Hotel at the corner of Lake and Dearborn streets in Chicago for the inaugural convention. Fortunately, some of the collectors who procured proof coins from the Mint were astute custodians of these numismatic delicacies. From the Scott Rudolph Collection.
Lot 4014: 1899 $2.50 PR 68 Ultra Cameo NGC. Realized: $40,250
Out of approximately 150 1899 quarter eagles, it is believed that 100 still exist; out of that number, the certification services have graded more than 250 examples. Therein lies the problem with population data – resubmissions – yet there is no denying that at the PR 68 level the number becomes more telling. This is the finest 1899 proof quarter eagle to ever cross the block at Heritage.
This is a guest article. The thoughts and opinions in this piece are those of their author and are not necessarily the thoughts of the Certified Collectibles Group.